Emilie(y) Joan Smale

Emilie Joan Smale c.1915
A British Home Child in Canada
Arthur and Emilie's Family
The family of Arthur Durston and Emilie Joan Smale (British Home Child) Circa 1915. Arthur and Emilie in Centre
The photo was probably taken in the summer of 1915 prior to the oldest boy William's departure for WWI
(All of the people in this photo are deceased)

Emilie Joan Smale was born December 4, 1869 in the working class district of Hampstead, in London. Her father had been a coppersmith, but had died two months earlier in October, leaving her mother, already with one older child, to support herself and two children. She would eventually need assistance from the “Poor Law” of the time which would break up the family unit and cause the emigration to Canada of 10 year old Emilie.

We have been able to determine that her parents were John Smale, b Mar 20,.1844 and Mary Anne Hedges, b about 1838.  They were married Oct 26, 1862 at the Whitechapel church in Middlesex co. John was a coppersmith. Their first child, Annie Elizabeth was born September 12, 1863, and we find no more information until John dies Oct 1, 1869; apparently of a violent death and, according to the death certificate, he was of “Unsound Mind”.

Emilie Joan Smale was born December 4 of that same year (1869). In January of the following year, Mary Anne, now a widow, proceeds to register Emilie and to also have her baptised at Mary Anne's own church; Whitechapel in Middlesex.

April 2, 1871 was census day, and we find Annie Elizabeth Smale (7) and Emilie Joan Smale (1) in the home of one George Hedges. We know that George Hedges is a sibling of Mary Anne. Since there is no sign of Mary Anne, we wondered if she had died by this time but could find no sign of a death registered. We should mention that there are many Smale females, and many Mary Annes and one must sort which ones might be the correct ones. We looked for DOB circa 1838, an association with Whitechapel, birth location of Hampstead, and she is known to be a widow. We found these criteria in the 1871 census at the home of a Mr and Mrs Latham, a solicitor. Mary Ann is noted to be a servant and a nurse.

Later, in October 5, 1871, we find that Anne Smale, 34, Anne Smale, 8, and Emily Smale 2 were all admitted to the St Pancras Workhouse. They each had various lengths of stay and is a possible indication that they were all stricken with some sickness or other. They may also have applied for help under the “Poor Law”, since Mary Anne was now pregnant with an illegitimate child (Hugh Mark Smale who was born in the Workhouse later that year)  and the Poor Law may have required that the entire family present to the Workhouse. Emily was eventually sent out to “School”, Anne (8) to another ward and Ann (34) was sent to “out”. When Mary Anne gave birth to Hugh Mark Smale in November of 1871, that child was also committed to the workhouse, and died there after 10 months.

By these findings, we know that Mary Anne was alive at least until Emilie was approximately 3 years old. At this point, Emilie was probably living in the workhouse and Mary Anne, although possibly still living, having a declining contact with both of her children. Their future was almost certainly decided by various institutions from then on, including Emilie’s candidacy for emigration under the Home Children program, and her eventual involvement with Miss Maria Rye.

Emilie’s story as remembered by her daughter Catherine McIlquham begins as a girl of nine years old in a London orphanage……..” She was treated kindly by the matron who was reluctant to allow her to leave the orphanage to the care of her foster parents.  However she was persuaded and Emilie left in the care of her new parents who would take her with them to Canada and  settle in "Northern Manitoba". 
Her foster parents did not believe in educating girls, and expected her to do farm and house chores instead of going to school. She said that she played “hooky” to go TO school, and  was helped by the teacher who sought help from the school  board to ensure she was allowed to attend. She was then allowed to attend but without relief from the farm chores.……………”

……….”At 14 she ran away from this home to live in Brandon. She was eventually befriended by a doctor who made her his assistant. She was starved for reading material and read medical books, knowledge which was to benefit her large family in later years. Her recipe for cough syrup was legendary, but it was not handed down to her children.  She is remembered as being deeply religious and was proud of her refusal as a child to bring beer to her employers…………."

The story above  was apparently related to Emilie’s children, but has become a type of Folklore which apparently is based loosely on real happenings; the differences probably the result of retellings, coupled with an initial embarrassment felt by all “Home children” .

Most of the Home children were sponsored by philanthropic organizations such as Barnardos (being the largest). Others were Miss Rye, Miss McPherson, and many more. We find our first trace of Emilie's life as a “Home Child” in the records of Miss Rye.

In 2016, we have found what we consider to be her record in .the home records of Miss Maria Rye. Miss Rye was one of the original proponents of the practice of emigrating British subjects to the colonies ,  and during the 1870's had received much negative publicity for the practice. The negativity subsided when she began using paupers and orphans as her subjects. This was favourably received by the Canadian government because it provided the new colony with low cost labourers for the farms and households; and overlooked by the British government because it rid them of a significant social problem. Miss Rye was one of a handful of organizations who brought children into Canada by the boatload, staged them at her facility at Niagara on the Lake, and moved them to individual placements. Miss Rye probably had honourable intentions towards the children when she stipulated that they were to " be treated as one of the family’ or ‘To sit at the same table’ " 

One of the workhouses that supplied Miss Rye with candidates was St Pancras; the same place that Emily had been placed by her Mother at age 2.

In 1880, Miss Rye's records contain an Emily Smaile, 10 years old as having stayed at Miss Rye's staging home at Niagara on the Lake. She is said to have immigrated in 1880 on the ship “Peruvian”, departing January 29, but other records show her as having been transported by the ship "Sarmatian" in a June 20 arrival. According to Maria Rye’s hand-written accounting, three groups of children (mostly but not entirely girls) were brought into Canada during 1880. There were 98 children in total, and she billed the Canadian Government $2 for each in her invoice submitted in November 1880,  just after the last load had been catalogued. We have not yet discovered sailing records for Emilie’s voyage on the Peruvian, but researchers following other passengers on that same voyage have reported that the ship may have been forced to dock in Halifax probably due to ice conditions at Quebec, and Halifax passenger lists in these years are known to be unavailable.

Researchers specializing in "Maria Rye" archival material have identified that Emilie was probably indentured in 1880 to a farm family in Homer, Ontario; Joseph and Anna Lampman. If so, by 1881 census, another "Servant" also from the Rye home named Sarah Berry, who was approximately the same age was the only such person present. This note from that archivist ............."The 1880 Annual Report of Miss Rye’s Emigration Home for Destitute Little Girls reports, at entry no 4 “E.S., aged 10, father dead and stepmother very cruel. To Mrs L., Farmer, Homer, Ontario. Bound. Mrs L. has had another of our girls”................."  Also  this note which might explain Emilie's reluctance to serve beer and which may have resulted in an "unsatisfactory" rating and a quick re-posting ".....It seems that the Rye girls had pledged to abstain from alcohol because several of the letters published in the annual reports make mention of the fact that the child concerned had stuck by their pledge to abstain –…….”

We have found no “Emily Smale” or similar name in the Canadian 1881 census, but there is some indication that she had been “adopted” by John and Elizabeth Kinney prior to census time.

John Kinney and Elizabeth Pollock were married in Ontario in 1869 in the Welland area. In the 1881 census, a family named Kenie (Spelling variation has changed from Kinney, to Kenie, and also Kenney) is entered, again at Welland,  showing John, Elizabeth, Andrew, Emily, William, and David. There are specific birth records for each child except Emily, supporting speculation that this girl is Emilie Smale.

At this time,  the Kinney family lived at Welland, Ontario, which places their home within about ten miles of the Maria Rye Home at Niagara on the Lake. (This is also the case with the Lampman home at Homer). 

The Kinney family later moved to Manitoba and homesteaded near Chater, in the Brandon area. "Municipal Memories" is a 1984  history of the RM of Cornwallis. A family history of the Kinneys was written for this publication by a then-elderly wife of one of the Kinney boys and states in part “.........


John Kinney emigrated to Canada from Ireland in 1848 at the same time as Elizabeth Pollock whom he later married. They lived at Drummondville, now called Niagara Falls, where their house still stands. They had three boys - Andrew, William and David and one adopted daughter Emily. John came west in 1882, early in the spring, and chose a homestead about 12 miles east of Brandon in the Chater area. He built a house 20'x22' with 12' studding, a cottage roof and no ceiling. The roof always leaked! There was no chimney - just stovepipes! The walls were bare studding with one layer of siding on the outside. The siding shrunk and it was possible to

look through the cracks and see the snow drifting. The only heat was from the cookstove. John left to return to Ontario just before Christmas of the same year. While passing through Winnipeg he stopped to do some carpentry work, developed typhoid fever and died in a hotel in Winnipeg on Jan. 2, 1883, being buried at St. John's cemetery. Mrs. Kinney and her family came out to the homestead in the early part of March 1883, and lived there without any improvements for the first winter. The three boys lived with their mother and farmed until each got land of his own. Andrew bought land near the homestead, farming until he moved with his family to Edmonton in 1903 where he lived until his death........................


[Note] The fate of the “adopted” child is not mentioned further.

In 1887. The Manitoba archives record that a child by the name of Annie Elizabeth Smale Cascaden was born on January 13 in the RM of Cornwallis. The Mother is recorded as Emily Joan Smale, (who would have turned 17 a month earlier).

On the child’s Birth Certificate, the Father is named as John Cascaden and the delivery was assisted by a midwife named Mrs Kinney, This baby was more than a month old when registered on February 18, 1887

There is no trace of a John Cascaden (of the appropriate age)  in Manitoba's 1881, or 1891 Census',  but a Homesteader named John Windle Cascaden proved a title in 1886 for land in Manitoba on Sec.18, Twp 9, Range 16 which is near to the village of  Chater, Manitoba .  Under the terms of the land grant, he would have been required to live at that location for several years and must have done so because he was named as postmaster at the local settlement of Aweme.  By 1891, however,  the  census finds Johnie Windle Cascaden back in Ontario, single and age 34, living with his aging parents.

Emilie’s child, Annie Elizabeth Smale Cascaden is not mentioned in any other Manitoba Archives and her records  remain unsealed in the Archives, which should indicate a lack of (Manitoba) adoption. In the absence of a corresponding Death Report, a private adoption is probable.

It should be noted that in the adoption discussion for both Annie Elizabeth, and Emilie herself; adoption procedures in Canada had not yet been well formalized. For example, it was not until 1893 that the Act for the Cruelty to and Better Protection of Children was enacted, and this allowed creation of the Children’s Aid Society and the development of better procedures for the adoption of children.

The child's name (Annie Elizabeth) is an exact match for Emilie's own Sister.  Emilie and her sister may have lived together for some time as children since she was very familiar with the name.

.By 1891 in the Manitoba census Emily was recorded as living at Kemnay (a small town on the opposite side of Brandon from the previously mentioned Chater) with the Pooles, and was married that same October to Arthur Durston. (She was recorded as a “Spinster”) She later related to her children an expectation that after their marriage Arthur would be reunited with his children (Tom and Annie) whom she wanted to raise. However these children remained in Ontario living with the Whitmores while Arthur and Emilie had their own family. 

In 1983, the RM of Whitehead published a centennial history book and invited families to present their family histories. The Arthur Durston family would have been written by surviving Durston children; both Arthur and Emilie having been dead for many years. The book states in part that "..........He (Arthur) came to the Kemnay district around 1885. (it would have been 1891)  He and his wife, the former Ann Ainsley (we now know her name to have been Amesbury), had two children, Tom and Annie. After Ann died, the children were raised by the Kinneys of Kemnay...."   We know that Tom and Annie were actually raised by the Whitmores in Ontario and Manitoba, but mention of the Kinney family is yet another example of the imprint that the "Kinneys"  had made on Emilie.

She was married in Brandon, Manitoba on October 10, 1891 to Arthur Durston. Children were Edith Merle, William Arthur, Winnifred Maude, Nellie Ruby born while they were living at Kemnay. 

In 1899, the family moved to Griswold, Manitoba where the remaining eight children were born. Their home was on NE1/4 of 5-9-22W1. These children were Anthony John, Albert Charles, Frank Henry, Dora Emily Martha, Catherine Ruth, Jessie Rose, Lucy, and Lily. Lucy and Lily died as infants and are buried on this property

After the death of Arthur in 1929, Emilie remained on the farm as her children left to pursue their various endeavours. Albert was the last to leave in 1937 when he married Bertha Donogh from a neighbouring farm and moved to another nearby..

In 1943, she moved into the village of Griswold until she needed steady assistance. She died in a personal care home in Brandon on April 25, 1949 and is buried at Griswold, Manitoba, Canada

Birth Certificate
The Birth certificate of Emilie Joan Smale

The Grave of Emilie Joan Smale Durston
The grave of Emilie Joan Smale Durston at Griswold (Manitoba) Cemetery
DOB on the monument should be 1869

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